Merkur Offshore Wind Farm, Germany
Development of a large-scale renewable energy project in Germany
In August 2016, a consortium that included InfraRed reached an agreement for the construction and operation of Merkur, a large scale 396MW offshore wind farm in Germany.
With a capital cost of €1.6bn, the project involves the design, construction, and installation of 66 Haliade 150-6MW turbines, plus an offshore substation to collect the electricity and feed it into the German grid.
The hub height of a single turbine is more than 100m above sea level, with one of the largest rotors in the industry covering an area equivalent to three football fields.
The construction and commissioning activities have been successfully completed in the summer of 2019.
The project came with a very challenging history.
Windreich, the original developer, became insolvent in 2013. Hochtief, the main contractor, sold its offshore business in 2014. Finally, Areva, the turbine manufacturer, also left the project.
A complete restructuring effort was led first by DEME and then GE to safeguard Merkur's grid permit. The other shareholders, including InfraRed, joined the effort early in 2016, raising $1.2bn of senior debt to ensure the project would go ahead.
A unique dual contract structure was developed to mitigate delivery risks during the construction phase and avoid unallocated interface risks.
Such complexity required a unique combination of specialist legal expertise and financial engineering covering insolvency law, M&A and project finance.
Creating Real Value
Merkur is one of the largest German Offshore wind projects benefitting from a long term tariff support under the German Renewable Energy Act (“EEG”).
It is also the first large scale commercial deployment of the innovative new GE Haliade turbine. As such, it offered a leading turbine manufacturer the opportunity to establish itself in the offshore wind sector. GE will provide full scope operation and maintenance services under a long-term performance contract incorporating availability guarantees and a robust security package.
The sponsors collaborated efficiently and transparently as part of a cohesive approach to stakeholder management. This included engaging and negotiating with the representative of the creditors impacted by the Windreich bankruptcy; with the Public Authority managing the permit process; and with senior lenders undertaking detailed due diligence on project risks.
The project was successfully refinanced in July 2018 on improved terms and with the opportunity to optimise the capital structure at completion. This breaks new ground, with the refinancing secured during the construction period - a first of its kind in the offshore wind sector.
“In the early days of the project, when the interests of the shareholders were still less aligned than nowadays, InfraRed’s sharp analyses, their negotiation skills and a goal-oriented approach were crucial in bringing all the parties together towards financial close.
During the 3 years construction period, InfraRed kept a very good balance between leaving the operational business with the management of Merkur and voicing their suggestions or concerns whenever the business case was influenced or could be improved. Their reflections were always productive and pragmatic which made it easy to find consensus in the board meetings with the other shareholders in Merkur.”
Managing Director, Merkur Offshore GmbH
“Merkur is one of the largest Offshore Wind projects in the world and was critical for GE in the development of its offshore wind strategy. InfraRed has been a very supportive and professional partner through all phases of this project, providing value-added insights and supportive feed-back at all stages”. Jérôme Pécresse
Senior Vice-President, GE & CEO, GE Renewable Energy